Kendo Nagasaki and George Gillette
Below is a photo collection and links for
legendary man of mystery and deception,
Kendo Nagasaki and his manager George
Please contact us with additional information
about these photos. You will be credited
unless you decline.
This is a good book on
British wrestling history.
Chapter 11 is on Kendo
Nagasaki. The book is out
of print, but used copies
are readily available.
Contact us if you need help
Please click here to help us
identify the unknown
subjects--AND THE HALLS--in
these photos. Thanks.
Can You Translate This??
"Public Enemies Number One"
"Public Enemy Number One"
History of British Wrestling:
Kendo Nagasaki & George Gillette
Painting by Sir Peter Blake
Kendo Nagasaki and Gorgeous George Gillette
Wrestler Kendo Nagasaki
Kendo Nagasaki is a professional wrestling stage name, used as a "gimmick" to
denote a Japanese Samurai warrior with a mysterious past and in possession of
supernatural powers of hypnosis. The name derives from the modern martial art of
Japanese fencing (Kendo), and Nagasaki is a city located on the south-western coast
of Kyu-shu-, site of the second use of the atomic bomb.
The original and most famous use of the gimmick is by the legendary British wrestler
Peter Thornley (born in Stoke-on-Trent) who made his name in ITV's World of Sport.
This version of the Nagasaki character dates back to November 1964.
[Note: A Japanese wrestler named Kazuo Sakurada also used the gimmick in the
United States during the early 1980s. Fans can easily tell the difference between the
two versions: Thornley's Nagasaki wore a mask, while Sakurada's wore face paint
instead. Sakurada later changed his ring name to The Dragonmaster.]
Kendo Nagasaki was one of the biggest draws of all time in British wrestling. In
November 1964 Kendo Nagasaki had his first professional contest against "Jumping"
Jim Hussey at Willenhall Baths. Nagasaki's most notable achievement during the 60's
was in March 1966 when he defeated and unmasked Count Bartelli (Crewe born Geoff
Condliffe) at the Victoria Hall, Hanley.
In July 1971, in what was said to be a sensational TV contest with Billy Howes,
Nagasaki's mask came off in the heat of the battle causing confusion all around. In
December 1971 Kendo Nagasaki appeared for the first time with manager "Gorgeous"
George Gillette at Dumfries.
Kendo Nagasaki went on to tour Canada and North America during 1972 working for
wrestling legend Stu Hart. In December 1975, Nagasaki was unmasked on television
by Shirley "Big Daddy" Crabtree. This was two years before he had an official
ceremonial unmasking at the Civic Hall Wolverhampton in what was one of the most
anticipated and most watched moments in ITV's World of Sport.
It wasn't until April the next year (1978) that Nagasaki appeared as an unmasked
wrestler for the first time, in a contest at Croydon against Bronco Wells. However, in
September 1978 Nagasaki retired from the ring on doctors orders and began a new
career in rock management, but returned in 1981-82 in a few appearances for promoter
Brian Dixon. By December 1986, Nagasaki made his masked return to the ring at the
London Hippodrome in a ladder match with Clive Myers, and in September 1987 went
on to become the WWA World Heavyweight Champion after defeating Wayne Bridges.
Starting in the early 1980s a new Kendo Nagasaki began appearing in the southern
United States territories. This incarnation was actually performed by Kazuo Sakurada
and looked vastly different from the original Nagasaki. Fans can easily tell the
difference between the two versions: Thornley's Nagasaki wore a mask, while
Sakurada's wore face paint instead. Sakurada also used "Asian mist" as part of his
During 1990, George Gillette died and Lloyd Ryan officially became Kendo Nagasaki's
new manager. In October 1991, Kendo Nagasaki feuded with Giant Haystacks, and at
one point was robbed of a chance at the CWA World crown after Haystacks
deliberately pulled off Nagasaki's mask forcing him to abandon the match.
Kendo Nagasaki retired once more in 1993 to concentrate on his role in commerce. He
returned in May 2000 only to accept the Wrestler Of The Millennium trophy.
In March 2001 Kendo Nagasaki made one more appearance in the ring to partner Vic
Powers in a charity tag ladder match against James Mason and Darren Walsh. Since
then, Nagasaki is said to be looking for a young wrestler to whom he might pass his
Outside of Wrestling
In November 1977 Nagasaki played the role of Death Angel in Brian Glover's TV play
The Wild Bunch for Granada Television. He also appeared as a guest on Big Daddy's
This Is Your Life. Nagasaki made another TV appearance in January 1992 on BBC2's
acclaimed Masters Of The Canvas, a documentary on Peter Blake's desire to paint
Kendo's portrait. And he was the subject of an edition of the BBC's prestigious,
arts-oriented documentary strand Arena. Other TV appearances followed including the
Feel the Sportsman section of the popular sports panel comedy They Think It's All
Over. He also appeared on the Granada documentary Everything Stopped At 4 O'Clock,
and in Paul Yates' video Images of Nagasaki. On the video games TV show
GamesMaster, he played a wrestling video game against a young boy--and lost.
Away from his wrestling gimmick, Thornley was the subject of a BBC news feature
about a dispute at a care home of which he was owner/manager.
Since 2002, Nagasaki has been writing his autobiography and in 2005 published The
Grapple Manual (Orion Books.)
The article above is adapted and edited by the House of Deception from Wikipedia
Encyclopedia and may be read in its original, uncredited form at Wikipedia.org.
See also the Wikia Sports biography
opponent in #20 (above)
is the former masked
wrestler Kung Fu, later
known as Eddie Hamil
The gallery photos #01-#06
(right) are of a tag match
with Count Bartelli, refereed
by Brian Crabtree (brother of
Shirley) at the Victoria Hall,
#07-#11 pairs Kendo
Nagasaki against one time
Champion Gwynne Davies,
again at Victoria Hall,
#19, & #37 were taken at
the same venue.
All of these updates were
sent in by a UK visitor who
writes, "I can be certain of
the above because the
Victoria Hall was my local
wrestling venue where I
hardly missed a show for
Thank you, John ___ , for
taking time to email the
House of Deception with
your corrections and
Kendo Nagasaki with manager George Gillette.
Many thanks to Kevin ___ for sending the photo and
autographs to The House of Deception.
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Copyright Duff Johnson 2004-2019
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